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At least three dead, others missing, after Alaska landslide

A mountain slope gave way along a coastal stretch of the Zimovia Highway in Wrangell, Alaska.

A mountain slope gave way along a coastal stretch of the Zimovia Highway in Wrangell, Alaska. Photo: US Coast Guard via AP

At least three people have been killed, and three others are believed to be missing, in a landslide on the principal highway serving an island community in south-east Alaska.

A steep, heavily wooded mountain slope gave way on Monday night along a coastal stretch of the Zimovia Highway in Wrangell, Alaska, a fishing and logging town of about 2000 residents 250 kilometres south of Juneau, the state capital, officials said.

One person was also injured.

The collapse of the mountainside followed a storm that swept south-east Alaska with heavy rain and high winds in recent days, saturating soil and heightening landslide hazards across the region, according to the state transportation department.

The downhill cascade of mud and tree debris struck three homes and buried a 150 metre-wide section of the roadway, according to officials who briefed reporters on Tuesday.

Emergency personnel found the body of a female juvenile in an initial search for survivors on Monday night, and an adult woman was rescued from the debris on Tuesday morning.

She was later listed in good condition, the state Public Safety Department said.

Later on Tuesday, two more bodies were found in the area.

Three more people – two juveniles and one adult – were believed missing after the search ended for the day.

Ground-level rescue operations were suspended overnight while geologists assessed the risk of additional landslide activity in the area, but on Tuesday portions of the slide zone was deemed stable enough to resume the search.

Aircraft and drones were also deployed in the search.

An estimated 20 to 30 residents in the vicinity of the slide left their homes.

-Reuters

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